Possession of Marijuana– State v. J.B.
Attorney Shafer represented J.B., a young man charged with possessing marijuana. J.B. had been driving his car one night with his friend as passenger, when he was stopped for not coming to a complete stop prior to making a lawful right turn.
During the traffic stop, a deputy sheriff spoke with the Accused while another Deputy Sheriff spoke with the passenger. The deputy smelled the odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle. At that point, the deputies ordered both J.B. and his passenger from the vehicle. A deputy asked the passenger if any marijuana was inside of the car; the passenger replied yes, it could be found in the trunk.
Both J.B. and his passenger were ordered to take a seat on a nearby curb while the vehicle was searched.
Upon searching the trunk, a deputy discovered a clear plastic bag containing marijuana. The deputy then confronted J.B. with the baggie and interrogated him as to whether or not he, J.B., owned the marijuana. J.B. admitted that both he and his passenger had their own personal marijuana mixed together in the same baggie.
Next, the deputy confronted the passenger with the same marijuana, who also admitted that some was his and some was Accused’s cannabis.
The questioning of both J.B. and his passenger was undertaken by the deputy without proper legal Miranda warnings first being given, advising both men they had a right to remain silent and the right to an attorney before answering questions.
Once J.B. retained Attorney Shafer, all the documents and other evidence created in the case were gathered. Then Attorney Shafer filed a motion to suppress, since his client was questioned without the benefit of proper legal warnings first being provided. Attorney Shafer set the motion to be heard before trial.
Two days before the motion was to be heard, the State Attorney filed a Nolle Prosqui, dismissing the charge.
(A sad note: Although the passenger was identically charged, and although he also could have had the benefit of dismissal of his case based upon law enforcement’s illegal questioning by filing the same motion as J.B., he chose not to be represented by attorney. Instead, he went to court unrepresented. Ultimately, he ended up entering a guilty plea and being placed on reporting probation, with conditions.)